281.) Joshua 1

May 31, 2010

“The book of Joshua is one of the Bible’s greatest testimonies to the mighty acts of God on behalf of Israel.  It reports how the Lord gave Israel the land of Canaan (ch 1-12) and allotted it as an inheritance (ch 13-19), to fulfill the promises made to Abraham (Genesis 12:7 and 15:12-16).  This story, along with the book’s concluding call to faithfulness (ch 23-24), is pivotal to the theology and literature of the Old Testament.”   –from Joshua, by Jerome F.D. Creach

Joshua 1   (NRSV)

God’s Commission to Joshua

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2“My servant Moses is dead.


Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites.

“Get ready to cross the Jordan River”  —  by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati.

3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. 5No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.


from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

In Joshua we find that God is ready to do something new for his people.  The Israelites had been slaves in Egyptian bondage and in their agony had cried out to Yahweh.  He had heard their cries, and he delivered them out of their slavery to be his people.  Now, however, because of their sin, they were wandering in the wilderness on the backside of the Jordan River,, with no land of their own.  They began to long for something more stable, and God wanted to give them that security.  It is interesting to recognize how many of the aspirations in the human heart have their origin in the heart of God.  He looks with pleasure on the basic human desires because he gave them to us, and he wants to be given the opportunity to meet those needs.

We must realize our dependence upon God for the meeting of our needs.  We must choose not to force circumstances to fit our desires.  We must trust him.  If we are receptive to him, there is no earthly power great enough to keep us from enjoying the good that he wants to give us.  God’s promise to Joshua emphasizes this truth:  “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of this life:  as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee:  I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.  Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:5-6 King James Version).  Oftentimes we look at our circumstances and feel that there are too many obstacles and too many enemies for God’s promises to actually reach fulfillment.  It is only our shortsightedness that causes us to doubt him.  His promise is that there is nothing outside of us that can keep us from enjoying what he wants to give.  Nothing has the power to frustrate the purposes of God for me—except me.


6Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. 8This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. 9I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”



Don Moen wrote a song that has meant a lot to many of us over the years, since it repeats the Lord’s words of encouragement to Joshua.  “Be Strong and Take Courage.”


Preparations for the Invasion

10Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11“Pass through the camp, and command the people: ‘Prepare your provisions; for in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.’”

12To the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13“Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest, and will give you this land.’

Hebrews 4:1-2, 8-11 (New International Version)

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. . .

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.


14Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan. But all the warriors among you shall cross over armed before your kindred and shall help them, 15until the Lord gives rest to your kindred as well as to you, and they too take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land and take possession of it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan to the east.”

16They answered Joshua: “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18Whoever rebels against your orders and disobeys your words, whatever you command, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map.   http://www.jesuswalk.com/joshua/images/central-palestine.jpg
floral spray on casket.    http://a248.e.akamai.net/f/80/71/6h/www.ftd.com/pics/products/S15-3529_330x370.jpg
Tzarfati.    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/albom/pictures/07.htm
Proverbs 3:5-6.    http://www.ritzcamera.com/graphics/products/e-03/EP8847303.jpg
Courage is a choice.    http://balmofgilead.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/courage-wolf-fear-is-a-reflex-courage-is-a-choice7.jpg

280.) Proverbs 11

May 28, 2010

“The righteous will thrive like a green leaf.” — Proverbs 11:28

Proverbs 11 (The Message)

Without Good Direction, People Lose Their Way

1God hates cheating in the marketplace;
he loves it when business is aboveboard.

A recent example of cheating in the marketplace:  Bernard Madoff orchestrated a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme that collapsed, affecting thousands of investors.

2 The stuck-up fall flat on their faces,
but down-to-earth people stand firm.

3 The integrity of the honest keeps them on track;
the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.

4 A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart,
but a principled life can stand up to the worst.

5 Moral character makes for smooth traveling;
an evil life is a hard life.

6 Good character is the best insurance;
crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.

7 When the wicked die, that’s it—
the story’s over, end of hope.

8 A good person is saved from much trouble;
a bad person runs straight into it.

9 The loose tongue of the godless spreads destruction;
the common sense of the godly preserves them.

a poster from World War II


from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

The Bible stresses that what you say is an accurate indicator of what is in your heart.  If your words bless and encourage others, they give evidence of a compassionate heart.  If you often share the good news about Christ, you demonstrate a heart that is grateful for your own salvation.  When others are in a crisis, do they know they will find peace and comfort in your words?  Do you frequently and spontaneously offer prayers for others?  Do your words and the manner in which you say them reveal a patient heart?  All of these behaviors indicate a heart that is like the heart of the Father.

Or do you often regret your words?  Are there people even now who are hurt or angry because of something you have said?  Do you enjoy gossip?  Do you tend to criticize others?  Do you feel that you are not responsible for what comes out of your mouth when you are angry?  Does your mouth spew grumbling and complaints?  These behaviors come from a heart that is unlike God’s heart.

You may say, “Oh, but that’s just the way I am!  I am always saying the wrong thing!”  Yet Scripture clearly states that an abusive tongue is not under the control of the Spirit (see James 3:3-10).  A sanctified mouth is a wonderful instrument for the Lord.  A heart like the father’s heart will produce only pure and loving words.  Without making any excuses for your words, ask the Holy Spirit to forgive you for any words that have brought harm.  Then ask Him to discipline your mouth so that every word you speak is used by God to encourage and edify others.


10 When it goes well for good people, the whole town cheers;
when it goes badly for bad people, the town celebrates.

11 When right-living people bless the city, it flourishes;
evil talk turns it into a ghost town in no time.

12 Mean-spirited slander is heartless;
quiet discretion accompanies good sense.

13 A gadabout gossip can’t be trusted with a secret,
but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence.

“Gossip” by Norman Rockwell.

14 Without good direction, people lose their way;
the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.

15 Whoever makes deals with strangers is sure to get burned;
if you keep a cool head, you’ll avoid rash bargains.

16 A woman of gentle grace gets respect,
but men of rough violence grab for loot.

A God-Shaped Life

17 When you’re kind to others, you help yourself;
when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.



“We Can Be Kind”  sung by Nancy Lamott.


18 Bad work gets paid with a bad check;
good work gets solid pay.

19 Take your stand with God’s loyal community and live,
or chase after phantoms of evil and die.

20 God can’t stand deceivers,
but oh how he relishes integrity.

21 Count on this: The wicked won’t get off scot-free,
and God’s loyal people will triumph.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful face on an empty head.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”

–Miss Piggy


23 The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.

24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

“The Miser” by Tsaritsa Maria Fyodorovna (mother of Tsar Nicholas II), 1890.

The Miser

A miser once dreamed he had given away
Some bread to the beggar he’d met in the day.
He woke with a start and solemnly swore
That as long as he lived he would slumber no more.


25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.

26 Curses on those who drive a hard bargain!
Blessings on all who play fair and square!

27 The one who seeks good finds delight;
the student of evil becomes evil.

28 A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.

29 Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air;
common sense tells you it’s a stupid way to live.

30 A good life is a fruit-bearing tree;
a violent life destroys souls.

Galatians 5:22-23 (English Standard Version)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


31 If good people barely make it,
what’s in store for the bad!


The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
green tree.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_xCDusF6AqVw/ShDIZLS80KI/AAAAAAAAAFY/F61YeQT8EFk/s400/Tree3.jpg
Bernie Madoff.    http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/12/12/alg_bernard_madoff.jpg
“Loose lips sink ships” poster.    http://robinrile.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/loose-lips-sink-ships-posters.jpg
Rockwell.    http://tucsoncitizen.com/retroflections/files/2009/11/Gossip.jpg
Miss Piggy.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/100/296745849_ec37dced32_o.gif
Fyodorovna.    http://01varvara.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/maria-fyodorovna-the-miser-1890-e1268345929496.jpg
fruit and verse 30.    http://www.countryliving.com/cm/countryliving/images/fruit-de.jpg

279.) Psalms 38 and 39

May 27, 2010

“Psalm 38” — oil on canvas by Elena Hopsu, 2003 (born in Russia but now living and working in Helsinki, Finland)

Psalm 38 (New American Standard Bible)

1O LORD, rebuke me not in Your wrath,
And chasten me not in Your burning anger.
2For Your arrows have sunk deep into me,
And Your hand has pressed down on me.
3There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation;
There is no health in my bones because of my sin.
4For my iniquities are gone over my head;
As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.

5My wounds grow foul and fester
Because of my folly.
6I am bent over and greatly bowed down;
I go mourning all day long.
7For my loins are filled with burning,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
8I am benumbed and badly crushed;
I groan because of the agitation of my heart.

9Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
10My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.
11My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague;
And my kinsmen stand afar off.
12Those who seek my life lay snares for me;
And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction,
And they devise treachery all day long.

13But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14Yes, I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth are no arguments.
15For I hope in You, O LORD;
You will answer, O Lord my God.

2 Timothy 1:12 (New Living Translation)

I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.


16For I said, “May they not rejoice over me,
Who, when my foot slips, would magnify themselves against me.”

17For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.
18For I confess my iniquity;
I am full of anxiety because of my sin.
19But my enemies are vigorous and strong,
And many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20And those who repay evil for good,
They oppose me, because I follow what is good.

21Do not forsake me, O LORD;
O my God, do not be far from me!
22Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

Psalm 39 (New American Standard Bible)

1I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”
I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;
Then I spoke with my tongue:

4“LORD, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
6“Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.

7“And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You.



These two psalms show the writer experiencing very trying times, calling out for healing, protection, and mercy.  During some of the hardest times in my life things have seemed just so overwhelming that I cannot breathe; it is hard for me even to get air in and out.  At such times, I have found the simple repetition of the phrases from this song help me.  “My life . . . my strength . . . my hope . . . is in you, Lord.”  And indeed, I have good reason find it so:   Job 12:10 says, “For the life of every human being is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.”

May God bless you with healing, protection, mercy, strength, hope, and easy breathing.


8“Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Make me not the reproach of the foolish.
9“I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
Because it is You who have done it.
10“Remove Your plague from me;
Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing.
11“With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity;
You consume as a moth what is precious to him;
Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.

James 4:13-15 (Contemporary English Version)

You should know better than to say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!” What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears. You should say, “If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things.”


12“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner like all my fathers.
13“Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again
Before I depart and am no more.”


New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Images courtesy of:
Hopsu.   http://www.elenahopsu.com/images/psalmi_38.jpg
sack of guilt.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_yiGfIm0Om-8/SgiMzwt5cQI/AAAAAAAAACg/MsUXxAuNV-4/s320/guilt.jpg
God is faithful.    http://www.timeoutdevotions.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/god-is-faithful.jpg
Psalm 39 puff of wind.   http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3640/3305943940_cdf7829fa4.jpg
cactus and 39:4.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps39-04v.jpg
Life’s too short quote.    http://content.pyzam.com/graphics/f/ab_laugh69.gif
calendar pages.    http://lh3.ggpht.com/_z291oaHU3ps/Sg25Xia7JoI/AAAAAAAAQm4/AQFXIeGNKSE/bxp34754h.jpg

278.) Psalm 37

May 26, 2010

Psalm 37 (New American Standard Bible)

1Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
3Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.

–from Tozer on the Holy Spirit

Admiration . . . is appreciation of the excellency of God.  Man is better qualified to appreciate God than any other creature because he was made in His image and is the only creature who was.  This admiration for God  grows and grows until it fills the heart with wonder and delight.

“In our astonished reverence we confess Thine uncreated loveliness,” said the hymn writer.  “In our astonished reverence.”

The God of the modern church person rarely astonishes anybody.  He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution.  Never breaks over our bylaws.  He’s a very well-balanced God and very denominational and very much one of us, and we ask Him to help us when we’re in trouble and look to Him to watch over us when we’re asleep.  The God of the modern church person isn’t a God I could have much respect for.  But when the Holy Ghost shows us God as He is — we admire Him to the point of wonder and delight.


5Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

7Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.

–from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers


“Fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil doing.” –Psalm 37:8

Fretting means getting out at elbows mentally or spiritually. It is one thing to say “Fret not,” but a very different thing to have such a disposition that you find yourself able not to fret. It sounds so easy to talk about “resting in the Lord” and “waiting patiently for Him” until the nest is upset – until we live, as so many are doing, in tumult and anguish, is it possible then to rest in the Lord? If this “don’t” does not work there, it will work nowhere. This “don’t” must work in days of perplexity as well as in days of peace, or it never will work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work in anyone else’s case. Resting in the Lord does not depend on external circumstances at all, but on your relationship to God Himself.

Fussing always ends in sin. We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way. Our Lord never worried and He was never anxious, because He was not “out” to realize His own ideas; He was “out” to realize God’s ideas. Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God.

Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God? Put all “supposing” on one side and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.


9For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.
10Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
11But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

Matthew 5:5 (New International Version)

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.


12The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming.
14The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
To slay those who are upright in conduct.
15Their sword will enter their own heart,
And their bows will be broken.
16Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
17For the arms of the wicked will be broken,

Psalm 10:15 (Contemporary English Version)

Now break the arms

of all merciless people.

Punish them for doing wrong

and make them stop.


But the LORD sustains the righteous.
18The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.
19They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
20But the wicked will perish;
And the enemies of the LORD will be like the glory of the pastures,
They vanish–like smoke they vanish away.
21The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
But the righteous is gracious and gives.
22For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
But those cursed by Him will be cut off.
23The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
24When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
25I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
26All day long he is gracious and lends,
And his descendants are a blessing.
27Depart from evil and do good,
So you will abide forever.
28For the LORD loves justice
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
29The righteous will inherit the land
And dwell in it forever.



How wonderful to have such a faithful God who will care for our every need and always do what is right!   He is worthy of our praise!  Here is  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”  sung here by Cece Winans.  The hymn was written in 1923 by Kentucky school teacher/newspaperman/pastor Thomas Chisholm;  it was  popularized around the world by George Beverly Shea and the choirs of the Billy Graham Crusades.


30The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
And his tongue speaks justice.
31The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip.
32The wicked spies upon the righteous
And seeks to kill him.
33The LORD will not leave him in his hand
Or let him be condemned when he is judged.

2 Peter 2:9 (New Living Translation)

So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials.


34Wait for the LORD and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
35I have seen a wicked, violent man
Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil.
36Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more;
I sought for him, but he could not be found.

37Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright;
For the man of peace will have a posterity.
38But transgressors will be altogether destroyed;
The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
39But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
40The LORD helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in Him.


Further reflection:

Psalm 37:4 (King James Version)
Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

There is satisfaction in serving the Lord Jesus; sweetness in suffering for His Name; blessing in bearing His reproach; pleasure in becoming a pilgrim; delight in doing His bidding.  To have every natural delight:  face, form, education, erudition, personality, position, achievement, and acclaim of others is to need the discipline of delight, that every gift be acknowledged as from the Giver, that every talent become a sacred trust, that every honor become a humbling of the heart before Him, in order that He have all the glory.  Then, like Moses of old, with lowly heart and veiled face, we shall walk where He leads, shall be thankful for daily manna, shall endure as seeing Him who is invisible, shall believe Him when every other friend fails.

–Dr. V. Raymond Edman (president of Wheaton College 1941-1965)
in Stones of Remembrance


New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Images courtesy of:
flower, bee, and verse 4.    http://img241.imageshack.us/img241/2057/psalm374flowerbeeuu2.png
heart and verse 4.    http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f124/toia29483/Decorated%20images/Heart-1.jpg
NO sign.    http://z.about.com/d/diyfashion/1/0/Q/6/-/-/NoSign.JPG
“Children Inherit the Earth” — drawing by Dave Card and Adrianna Steele-Card.    http://www.kevinsteele.com/pomc/images/pomc-card-01-children-inherit-earth.jpg
x-ray of a broken arm.    http://crissiecudd.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/xray-broken-arm2.jpg
rescue dog.    http://changebydoing.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/rescue-dog.jpg
tulips and verse 4.  http://image57.webshots.com/657/7/78/57/2436778570051563516thvHGr_ph.jpg

277.) Psalms 35 and 36

May 25, 2010

Psalm 35 (New American Standard Bible)

1Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2Take hold of buckler and shield
And rise up for my help.
3Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me;
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

1 Thessalonians 5:9 (English Standard Version)

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us.


4Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life;
Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.
5Let them be like chaff before the wind,
With the angel of the LORD driving them on.
6Let their way be dark and slippery,
With the angel of the LORD pursuing them.
7For without cause they hid their net for me;
Without cause they dug a pit for my soul.
8Let destruction come upon him unawares,
And let the net which he hid catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall.

9And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD;
It shall exult in His salvation.

10All my bones will say, “LORD, who is like You,
Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,
And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?”

11Malicious witnesses rise up;
They ask me of things that I do not know.
12They repay me evil for good,
To the bereavement of my soul.

13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled my soul with fasting,
And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.


Here’s a great verse to help you pray for your enemies.

Psalm 35:13 says:  “But as for me when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth.  I humbled my soul with fasting and my prayer returned into my own bosom.”

Praying for people you do not like, or people who hate you, is not the most inspirational thing to do—I must admit. But there is great benefit in doing so.

David is saying here that his prayers did not benefit his enemies due to their sin and rebelliousness toward God. Yet God rewarded him for his prayers and for showing mercy and grace toward them in their time of trouble (“my prayer returned into my own bosom”).

David fasted and prayed for his enemies. He showed compassion toward them.  He treated his enemy as a friend. He returned good for evil, as he would to his own brother or mother. What a great heart!

Jesus told us to turn the other cheek.In Matthew 5:44 he said: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He not only taught it, he lived it.

On the cross he prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Do you need to pray a prayer like this?

–Lui Ponifazio


14I went about as though it were my friend or brother;
I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.
15But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together;
The smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me,
They slandered me without ceasing.
16Like godless jesters at a feast,
They gnashed at me with their teeth.
17Lord, how long will You look on?
Rescue my soul from their ravages,
My only life from the lions.
18I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.

19Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me;
Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously.
For they do not speak peace,
But they devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.
They opened their mouth wide against me;
They said, “Aha, aha, our eyes have seen it!”
22You have seen it, O LORD, do not keep silent;
O Lord, do not be far from me.

Genesis 16:13 (New Living Translation)

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”


23Stir up Yourself, and awake to my right
And to my cause, my God and my Lord.
24Judge me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness,
And do not let them rejoice over me.
25Do not let them say in their heart, “Aha, our desire!”
Do not let them say, “We have swallowed him up!”

26Let those be ashamed and humiliated altogether who rejoice at my distress;
Let those be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves over me.

27Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication;
And let them say continually, “The LORD be magnified,
Who delights in the prosperity of His servant.”
28And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness
And Your praise all day long.

My lips will praise you, for you are holy.
My voice will ever rise before your throne.
My heart will love you, for you are lovely,
and you have called me to become your own.


Psalm 36 (New American Standard Bible)

1Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
2For it flatters him in his own eyes
Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.
3The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
4He plans wickedness upon his bed;
He sets himself on a path that is not good;
He does not despise evil.

5Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep.
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.



Third Day and “Your Love, O Lord” — from verses 5-7.


8They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.

from Whispers of His Power, by Amy Carmichael

Psalm 36:8 — They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.

The Septuagint has “They shall be fully satisfied,” and a footnote says that the Greek means “intoxicated.”  It is not difficult to be “abundantly satisfied” or even “intoxicated” with God’s goodness when all is going well.  But when things are, as we say, “impossibly hard,” what then?

Well, the Word still stands, and we must learn to live in the power of that word:  They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house. In other words, satisfied with Him, His will, His providence, His provision, His withholdings as well as His givings.  We must not build our satisfaction, our happiness, on any earthly thing; not on having what we want, or going where we want, or doing what we want.

The foundation of our happiness must be invisible, not visible.  It must not depend on circumstances of any sort whatever.  Let us gratefully take all that is given us of visible good things, for they are the gift of our most loving Father.  But do not let us build on these things.  No, never.


9For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

10O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11Let not the foot of pride come upon me,


Proverbs 21:4 (Contemporary English Version)

Evil people are proud

and arrogant,

but sin is the only crop

they produce.


And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12There the doers of iniquity have fallen;
They have been thrust down and cannot rise.


New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Images courtesy of:
flower and 35:23.   http://prayermoments.com/Documents/Psalm%2035%2027.jpg
Jesus died for me.    http://gospelgifs.com/clips/clips4/images/jdfm01.gif
poppies and 35:9.    http://www.gprops.tv/images/psalm_35_9_web.jpg
Love your enemies.     http://luiponifasio.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/enemies_love_.jpg
Hagar and the God who sees her.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5QiQAbZN6E8/RoApdDADJAI/AAAAAAAAADk/uXM9jykKwaI/s320/Hagar%2Bund%2BEl%2BRoi.jpg
heart and notes.    http://www.stevesternberg.com/images/heart_q5ct.gif
rainbow and 36:9.    http://www.christian-ecards.net/bible-verses-images/psalm-36-9.jpg
Holy Bible.    http://s1.hubimg.com/u/415740_f260.jpg

276.) Psalm 34

May 24, 2010

This stained glass window of King David praising the Lord and playing his harp is found in Fringford, United Kingdom.

Psalm 34 (New American Standard Bible)

A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.

1 Samuel 21:10-15 (New International Version)

That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath.  But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:
” ‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath.  So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me?  Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”

So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.  When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there.


1I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.

3O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

Mankind has succeeded quite well in reducing God to a pitiful nothing!  The God of the modern context is no God at all.  He is simply a glorified chairman of the board, a kind of big businessman dealing in souls.  The God portrayed in much of our church life today commands very little respect.

We must get back to the Bible and to the ministration of God’s Spirit to regain a high and holy concept of God.

To know the Creator and the God of all the universe is to revere Him.  It is to bow down before Him in wonder and awesome fear.  God calls us to magnify Him, to see Him big.

–A. W. Tozer


4I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

5They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.


A missionary  was leaving Hungary after a number of years working there while the country was still within the Soviet orbit. As he was crossing the border checkpoint, a border guard said to him, “You are leaving? I’m always sad when the believers go.”

“How did you know I was a believer?” the missionary inquired.

“Oh, I know all the believers,” the guard replied.  “I know them by the light in their eyes.”

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (Psalm 34: 5).


6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

7The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

8O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

1 Peter 2:1-3 (English Standard Version)

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.


9O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.

10The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

11Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?

13Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.

14Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.


2 Corinthians 13:11 (New American Standard Bible)

Rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.


15The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.

16The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

from This Day with the Master, by Dennis F. Kinlaw:

The words of Psalm 34 do not mean that whoever comes to Christ and lives for Him will have no fear, no trouble, and no need. Instead, the psalmist says that the person who trusts in God will find that fear is never the last word. Trouble is never the final answer. Need is never the ultimate reality. When the story is over, the fear will be conquered; God will have delivered. The trouble will be mastered, and God will have freed the believer. The needs in life will have been met, and God will have provided for every need.

There would have been no impetus to write this song if the psalmist had never had any fear, any trouble, or any need. It is when you have been scared to death, and God has brought you out of the trouble, that you can sing God’s praise. When you are in a tight place and call out to Yahweh, who is your only hope, you are in a situation ripe for a miracle. When you have no way to pay your bills and God provides, then you walk away while singing His praises.

The trouble itself turns our minds to Christ and gives Him the opportunity to show himself good and powerful in our lives.


18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

20He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.

"Crucifixion" by Pablo Picasso, 1930.

John 19:31-37 (New International Version)

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water . . .  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”


21Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.



What did you do this past Easter?  Do you remember?  These kids do!   On April 4, 2010, over 1,300 young people, all of them members of Faith Church, celebrated Resurrection Sunday in Budapest, Hungary.   (I wonder what our Soviet-era missionary would think if he could see this!)

Faith Church is Hungary’s largest evangelical church.  Over the past 30 years, it has planted more than 200 other churches, opened a theological academy, established a network of elementary and high schools, published newspapers and books which give reliable information, and led charity outreaches in Hungary and around the world.  Some 60,000 people regularly attend Sunday morning worship, with hundreds of thousands more watching the two-hour broadcast on television.  It is clear that the Lord is at work at Faith Church!


New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Images courtesy of:
King David playing the harp.    http://songsforpraise.com/KingDavid.jpg
magnifying glass and verse 3.    http://www.virtuousplanet.com/shops/userimages/00001/00000000012/section/00000000000000005704.png
map of Hungary.    http://www.topnews.in/files/hungary1.jpg
baby drinking milk from a bottle.    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2008/07/11/milk460x276.jpg
He cares for you.    http://www.heartfeltwishes.co.uk/images/PU90%20He%20cares%20for%20you.jpg
Picasso.    http://www.abcgallery.com/P/picasso/picasso96.html

275.) Hebrews 13

May 21, 2010


Christ is greater than Prophets (1:1-3)

Christ is greater than Angels (1:4-2:18)

Christ is greater than Moses (3:1-19)

Christ is greater than Joshua (4:1-13)

Christ is greater than Levitical Priests (4:14-7:28)

Christ is greater than the Tabernacle (8:1-5)

Christ is greater than Old Covenant (8:6-9:22)

Christ is greater than Sacrifices (9:23-10:39)

Outworking of Faith in Christ (11:1-40)

Outworking of Hope in Christ (12:1-29)

Outworking of Love in Christ (13:1-17)

Final Exhortation and Salutations (13:18-25)


Hebrews 13 (New International Version)

Concluding Exhortations

1Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

3Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

4Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

6So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”

7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings,
edited by Barbara Owen

In God’s sight this principle stands firm and unshakable:  all saints live by the same Spirit and by the same faith, and are guided and governed by the same Spirit and the same faith, but they all do different external works.  For God does not work through them at the same time, in the same place, in the same work,  or in the sight of the same people.  He moves at different times, in different places, in different works, and in different people, but he always rules them by the same Spirit and the same faith.

And each one is compelled by the work, place, time, persons, and circumstances, previously unknown to him, to follow God as he rules and guides him.  This is the true knowledge of faith in which all saints are instructed, each one in his own vocation.


8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.


Yesterday He died for me . . . this is history.
Today He lives for me . . . this is victory.
Tomorrow He comes for me . . . this is mystery.



“Oh, I Want to Know You More” — the cry of our hearts as we grow in loving Jesus, who shows us perfectly the Father’s love, yesterday, today, and forever.

The wonderful Cadet Sisters.

Just the time I feel that I’ve been caught in the mire of self, just the time I feel my mind’s been bought by worldly wealth, That’s when the breeze begins to blow, I know the Spirit’s call, and all my worldly wanderings just melt into His love.

Oh, I want to know you more, deep within my soul I want to know you, oh I want to know you. To feel your heart and know your mind. Looking in your eyes stirs up within me cries that say I want to know you. Oh I want to know you more.

When my daily deeds ordinarily lose life and song, My heart begins to bleed, sensitivity to Him is gone. I’ve run the race, but set my own pace and face a shattered soul, now the gentle arms of Jesus warm my hunger to be whole.

And Oh I want to know you. And I would give my final breath to know you in your death and resurrection. Oh I want to know you more. Lord,  I want to know you more.


9Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. 10We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

11The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.


Psalm 103:1-5 (The Message)

O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.


16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 17Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

18Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

20May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

from The Daily Study Bible, by William Barclay:

i)  Jesus is the great shepherd of His sheep.  There is a lovely legend about Moses.  It tells of a thing that Moses did when he had fled from Egypt and was keeping the flocks of Jethro in the desert.  A sheep of the flock wandered far away.  Moses patiently followed it, and when he found it, it was drinking at a mountain stream.  Moses came up to it and put it upon his shoulder.  “So it was because you were thirsty that you wandered away,” said Moses gently, and, without anger at the toll this sheep had caused him, he carried it home.  And when God saw it, He said, “If this man Moses is so compassionate to a straying sheep, he is the very man I want to be the leader of my people.”  A shepherd is one who is ready to give his life for his sheep.  He is one who bears with the foolishness of the sheep and who never stops loving them.  That is what Jesus does for us.

ii)  Jesus is the one who established the new covenant.  That is to say, Jesus is the one who made possible the new relationship between God and man.  It was Jesus who showed us what God is like, and who opened the door.  He took away the terror and showed us the love of God.

iii)  Jesus is the one who died.  To establish that new relationship, to show men what God was like, to open the way to God, cost the life of Jesus.  Our new relationship to God cost the blood of Jesus.  He died to bring us to God and to life.


2 Corinthians 1:20  (NRSV)

For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.”  For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God.


22Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter.

23I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.

24Greet all your leaders and all God’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.

25Grace be with you all.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Supremacy of Christ.   http://www.joethorn.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/supremacy-christ-blog.jpg
verse 2, calligraphy by Michael Noyes.    http://www.michaelnoyes.com/images/products/product_86_copyright.png
one Lord, one faith.    http://www.seghea.com/pat/bible/onelordwebring.gif
hands lifted in praise.    http://www.spirituality.org.za/uploaded_images/worship-747692.jpg
Jesus the Good Shepherd.    http://www.penitents.org/PictJesusGoodShepherd.jpg
yes.    http://olabajing.co.uk/images/yes_and_no.png

274.) Hebrews 12

May 20, 2010

Hebrews 12 (New International Version)

God Disciplines His Sons

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,



This has to be in my Top Ten List of Wonderful Hymns!  “For All the Saints.”   The words were originally written (1864) as a processional hymn, and the hymn tune, written by Ralph Vaughan Williams and known as Sine Nomine, is considered by many to be one of the finest hymn tunes of the 20th century.   Can you see the “cloud of witnesses” marching towards the Throne of God accompanied by this piece?

1.  For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

2.  Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou in the darkness drear, their one true light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

3.  O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

4.  The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

5.  But lo!  there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

6.  From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!


let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

from Whispers of His Power, by Amy Carmichael:

Hebrews 12:1 — Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

Hebrews 13:5-6 — He  hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear.

Watching an obstacle race made me think of the race we are called to run.  While we are in the middle of loops and tires and ladders and sacks we may be tempted to forget that they did not put themselves there.  They are there on purpose.  What would be the point of an obstacle race if there were no obstacles?  It would be foolish to say, “Couldn’t you clear these obstacles off the field, and make the race nice and easy?”

And yet that is exactly what we often ask God to do for us.  “Please make it a bit easier, it’s too hard for me.”  That is a poor sort of prayer, and there is not a single promise in the Bible which we can take and spread before our Father and say, “See, my Father, You promised to make the race easy.”  So it cannot be the kind of prayer He likes His runners to bring to Him.

There are many promises that we can bring.  Here is one.  It was written in a letter to people who were running in an obstacle race, and the obstacles were simply tremendous.  The author wrote about being properly prepared for the race, and about running with patience.  He wanted to give them a strong word of comfort too, so he wrote:  “God has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.  So you may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear.”

Next time we feel like giving up as we jump our bars, or scramble up our ladders, or dive through our rings, or struggle through our old tires, or stagger along in our sack, let us listen and we shall hear that word, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”


2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.


4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

“Refiner’s Fire,” watercolor by Jana Winters Parkin, 2007.

Suffering for the believer is a privilege, because suffering is a refining. Why do the godly suffer?  They suffer that they may be purified and cleansed.  Such is the message of God’s Word.  It is a refining process.  How clearly that is brought out in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews.

Suffering is a refining process, and even as heat is applied to precious metals to bring all the dross to the top in order that the pure metal might remain, so your life and mine are often subjected to the heat of suffering by the great Refiner who knows just how much heat to apply.

We read in Zechariah 13:9, “I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.”  God thus gets rid of the dross and we become partakers of His holiness.  That is a great promise and a great  privilege!

–Rev. Dr. Robert W. Lazear
in Stones of Remembrance


2 Corinthians 1:20 (The Message)

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.


12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Warning Against Refusing God

14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Bitterness has a tenacious way of taking root deep within the soul and resisting all efforts to weed it out.  Bitterness occurs for many reasons.  It might come from deep hurts you received as a child, hurts you cannot forget.  Time, rather than diminishing the hurt, only seems to sharpen the pain.  Bitterness can result from the hurtful words of a friend or co-worker.  Often the person who hurt you is unaware of the extent of your bitterness.  You find yourself rehearsing the offense over and over again, each time driving the root of bitterness deeper within your soul.  Bitterness can derive from a sense of being unjustly treated.

Bitterness is easy to justify.  You can get so used to a bitter heart that you are even comfortable with it, but it will destroy you.  Only God is fully aware of its destructive potential.  There is nothing so deeply embedded in your heart that God’s grace cannot reach down and remove it.  No area in your life is so painful that God’s grace cannot bring total healing.  No offense committed against you is so heinous that God’s love cannot enable you to forgive.

When you allow bitterness to grow in your life, you reject the grace of God that can heal you.  If you are honest before God, you will admit the bitterness and allow God to forgive you.  God will replace your bitterness with his peace and joy.


16See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

18You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”


22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a BETTER word than the blood of Abel.

 . . . for you have come home.

25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our “God is a consuming fire.”

from this Day with the Master, by Dennis F. Kinlaw:

Our God is a consuming fire.  –Hebrews 12:29

Sin has a transcendent character.  It rises above natural law and personally affronts the Holy One.  God is holy, he is the Almighty, and the difference between right and wrong begins and ends in him.  If you do not have the triune God, it is impossible to distinguish truth from error, and everything blurs together in a great gray mass of confusion.  We tend to be frightened of the holiness of the Father, Son, and Spirit, but in reality his holy nature provides the security of the world.  We want God to be angry when a child is hurt or when a person is discriminated against because we do not want evil to win.  We are glad that God gets upset when rich people take advantage of poor people.  God finds sin offensive because he is holy and he does what is right—always.

When the Holy Three-in-One comes into our midst and begins to make us like himself, we should be filled with ecstasy because his holiness offers the only chance for our crooked world to ever be made right.  God’s holiness is the dream of all the utopian philosophers, whether they acknowledge it or not.  He is the One in whom there is no falsehood, no wrong, no pollution.  He is the Just One:  absolutely true, completely good, and always right.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
cross window and verse 2.    http://pleasantword.net/media/wallpaper/Hebrews_12-2.jpg
runner and verse 1.    http://www.preceptaustin.org/hebrews12_1_new.jpg
sack race.    http://www.pnc.edu/cssac/06%20picnic%20Photos/Sack%20Race%20start.jpg
woman’s face with beautiful eyes.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/192/514545523_0aa2f8ed2e.jpg
Parkin.   http://www.parkinx.com/fineart/images/art/sized/parkin.57.jpg
Yes stamp.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/yes%20stamp/Errchy/yes_stamp_sm.jpg
fire on the mountain.    http://www.lutheranscience.org/images/Mt_Sinai.gif
heavenly Jerusalem.    http://gbcdecatur.org/files/NewJerusalem.jpg
God is good.    http://mailynshari.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/god-is-good-logo.jpg


273.) Hebrews 11: 23 – 40

May 19, 2010

Hebrews 11:23-40

(New International Version)

23By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

baby Moses and his mother

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

” . . . and the walls came a-tumbling down!”

31By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.


32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a BETTER resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.


2 Corinthians 1:20 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

For every one of God’s promises  is “Yes” in Him. Therefore the “Amen” is also through Him for God’s glory  through us.


40God had planned something BETTER for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.


“God has no problems.  Only plans.”

–Corrie ten Boom



“When the Saints Go Marching In.”  Mimi Fox is a jazz guitarist par excellance!  (How many times do you think she has practiced until her fingers bled?!)


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Faith is . . .     http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w221/dramadiva_photo/Life/Faith_hopefor.jpg
Moses’ mother places him in the river.    http://www.childrenstory.info/childrenbiblestories/childrenbiblestoriesillustrations/ilst190.jpg
Passover.    http://inbeulahland.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/passover1.jpg
crossing the Red Sea.    http://www.danielerlander.com/artwork/8redsea.jpg
walls of Jericho fall.    http://www.biblical-art.com/extra/ownpub/children/060.jpg
Rahab hiding the spies.    http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/StandardBibleStoryReadersBook5/target5.html
yes.     http://www.yesdesign.ca/yes_design/graphic/yes_r1_c1.gif


272.) Hebrews 11:1 – 22

May 18, 2010

Hebrews 11:1-22

(New International Version)

By Faith

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.


What is FAITH?

Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Henry David Thoreau:

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.”

from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery:

Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified Bible)

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].


2This is what the ancients were commended for.

3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4By faith Abel offered God a BETTER sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

Abel — and Cain


5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God,

It is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith.

because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.



8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.


by David Wilkerson

God gave our forefather Abraham the land of Canaan “for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8). In Hebrew, the word everlasting means never-ending. You might think, “Abraham had to rejoice over this. God promised his descendants a permanent homeland, as far as they could see, and it would last into eternity.” However, the New Testament tells us the world will be destroyed by fire, burnt completely out of existence, after which the Lord will bring about a new heaven and earth.

You may wonder: How could God’s “everlasting possession” to Abraham be a mere piece of real estate? How could it be eternal? The fact is, this land of promise was symbolic of a place beyond the earth. I believe Abraham knew this in his spirit. The Bible says that as Abraham moved about in Canaan, he always felt alien: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country” (Hebrews 11:9). Why was this so? It was because Abraham’s heart longed for something beyond the land itself.

“He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham could see the true significance of the land blessing and he realized, “This place isn’t the real possession. It’s just an illustrated sermon of the great blessing to come.” Abraham grasped the true meaning of the Promised Land; he knew Canaan represented the coming Messiah. Jesus himself tells us, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).

The Holy Spirit enabled this patriarch to see down through the years, to the day of Christ. He knew that the meaning of his Promised Land meant a place of total peace and rest. And, as Abraham knew, this place of rest is Jesus Christ himself. That’s right, the Lord Jesus is our promised possession. We are his, but he is ours as well. And God invites us to obtain our everlasting possession by simple faith.


11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because heconsidered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.


13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a BETTER country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

Abraham and Isaac


from Whispers of His Power,  by Amy Carmichael:

Hebrews 11:19 — Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.

Is there someone who is dead to the call of God and to all you have tried to do for him or her?  Is there something in your own heart that seems dead—hope, faith, courage, gladness, patience, love?  These words meet that condition.  God is able to raise up even those from the dead.

Think of the infinite love of God.  God so loved the world—not the good and lovable, but all the people in the world, just as they are.  God loves that ungrateful patient, that difficult child, that car driver who doesn’t care, that careless workman.  God loves those who have disappointed you again and again.  Most wonderful of all, God loves you and me.

There are many sorrowful people in the world today, some who have lost their dearest on earth, or who have parted from them.  Everywhere there is anxiety.  But the power of Calvary suffices for all needs as well as for all sins.

O Love eternal, Love divine,
In wounded hearts pour oil and wine.
Where darkness broods like moonless night,
O Light of Life, let there be light.
And Thine the praise, the glory be
When Thy beloved come home to Thee.


20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.



22By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.



“O When the Saints Come Marching In.”  Well, if you can’t sing this song with this chapter, when on earth can you sing it?!  With Louis Armstrong, of course.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Faith is.    http://www.newlifeweb.org/Images/WP_Faith_Is.jpg
Faith.    http://mennaef.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/faith_card-p137216260609523543q0yk_400.jpg
Abel and Cain.    http://ourpreciouslambs.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/cain-and-able.jpg
Noah.    http://www.oneil.com.au/lds/pictures/noah.jpg
map of the Promised Land.    http://davidanthonyporter.typepad.com/.a/6a00e55043abd08834011570af5a73970b-320wi
Abraham and stars.    http://www.loder.cz/bible/abram/V054.jpg
Abraham and Isaac before the Sacrifice (by Jan Victors, 1642).    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Abraham_and_Isaac_before_the_Sacrifice,_Jan_Victors,_1642.jpg
Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons (by Benjamin West, 1766).    http://hoocher.com/Benjamin_West/Jacob_Blessing_Ephraim_and_Manasseh.jpg